When the Wavetooth Waterproof Bluetooth Headset was first announced back in 2010, I was pretty excited about it. I've always loved the idea of having a soundtrack when I go swimming, but I've never been brave enough to risk trying one of those "waterproof" cases they sell to protect your phone. Leaving my phone by the pool and having the music delivered to my ears wirelessly really appealed to me, so I was dissapointed when the product launched to mediocre reviews. They don't seem to be available anywhere on the net anymore, and I haven't heard anything about the company since then, nor have any other companies stepped up to the plate with Bluetooth swimming headphones of their own. What happened, and how can you still swim to your favorite songs?
Underwater Bluetooth: Not Ready For Primetime
The problem with using Bluetooth headphones in the pool is that the signal just isn't strong enough to get through the water. Sure, the Wavetooths would survive a swim beneath the surface, but you wouldn't be able to hear anything! They only work if the receiver is above the water, making them alright for treading water, doggy paddling or just splashing around, and barely even passable for swimming laps. That's the whole reason I wanted them in the first place!
My first pair of wireless headphones was really a piece of crap, and I've seen first hand how far this kind of technology has come in the last few years. I'm hopeful that at some point in the near future there will be a product like this that actually lives up to the hype, but until then there some really decent compromises that will work just fine, even underwater.
Here Are Some Choices That Work
I've been using an AudioFlood waterproof iPod Shuffle, which is pretty cheap at Amazon.com, and come with waterproof headphones, and it works like a charm. It's exactly what it sounds like: a retrofitted iPod Shuffle that works underwater. A Shuffle was my jogging buddy for a long time until I jumped on the wireless bandwagon, and I've always loved its design and simplicity. I have it strapped to my goggles, and it's unobtrusive and delivers music without fail when I'm swimming laps, OR EVEN AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POOL! The Wavetooth had a bulky receiver and big lanyard, and this is a far more elegant solution that actually works.
My wife uses a pair of Go Waterproof Mp3 Player Headphones, and while their sound isn't as really as good as the headphones that come with the Waterfi Shuffle, they still sound surprisingly good underwater. They're also not as comfortable, and have a tendency to fall off sometimes, especially when you're swimming fast. Still,
they're a little bit cheaper than the waterproof Shuffle, so it's a decent option if you're strapped for cash but still want to swim underwater while listening to music, WHICH IS FRANKLY MIRACULOUS! (Update 1/30/2014 – Sorry, looks like these aren't in production anymore. Check out Jessica's review of the Sony NWZ-W273 Waterproof Walkman MP3 Player!) Seriously, nobody in the entire world has reason to complain about that.
Of course, either of these options requires you to manage your music collection, or at least part of it, on another device. I know, I know, it's like living in the olden days, back when everything was on physical media and you had to use different devices for different tasks, but it's honestly not a terrible inconvenience at all. When some real Bluetooth headphones for swimming show up on the market, I'll be all over them, but until then, I can live with this.